21 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street and a fool's paradise

As I ponder the curiosity of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, it seems to me that as they demand social change - even if they cannnot quite say what change it is they desire - they ignore one crucial aspect of the situations they condemn: the reality of sin.

It is as if they think that from man's own will a just system can emerge where greed will have no place, if only the newly created system is fair.  Herein lies the great danger of the OWS, the great dange of which I have yet heard no one speak.

This evening, as I prepare for tomorrow's class on the Creed, I stumbled upon a quote from then Cardinal Ratzinger that seems to apply well to the OWS (with my emphases):
To fight against suffering and injustice in the world is indeed a thoroughly Christian impulse.  But the notion that one can produce a world without suffering through social reform, through the abolition of government and the legal order, and the desire to achieve this here and now are symptoms of false doctrine, of a profound misunderstanding of human nature.  Inequality of owernship and power, to tell the truth, are not the only causes of suffering in this worldAnd suffering is not just the burden that man should throw off: anyone who tries to do that must flee into the illusory world of drugs so as to destroy himself in earnest and come into conflict with reality.  Only by suffering himself and by becoming free of the tyranny of egotism through suffering does man find himself, his truth, his joy, his happiness.  We are led to believe that one can become a human being without conquering oneself, without the patience of renunciation and the toil of overcoming oneself; that there is no need to withstand the hardship of perseverence or to endure patiently the tension between what man ought to be and what he is in fact: this is the very essence of the crisis of the hour.  If a man's hardship is taken away and he is led astray into the fool's paradise of his dreams, he loses what is distinctively his: himselfA human being in fact is saved in no other way but through the cross, through acceptance of his own passion and that of the world, which in God's Passion became the site of liberating meaning.  Only in that way, in this acceptance, does a human being become free.  All offers that promise it at less expense will fail and prove to be deceptive.  The hope of Christianity, the prospect of faith is ultimately based quite simply on the fact that it tells the truth.  The prospect of faith is the prospect of truth, which can be obscured and trample upon, but cannot perish (Credo for Today, 196-197).
Without a recognition of the reality of sin and a call for true repentance and conversion - both of the so-called 1% and of the 99% - the Occupy Wall Street movement will crash in upon itself, in much the same way as the French Revolution.  The 99% will become the 1%.

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